Blur at Wembley Stadium
Since the announcement of tonight’s show in November, Blur have made it clear that playing Wembley is nothing short of a dream come true. That sentiment is etched onto all their faces as they walk on-stage to The Debt Collector and a roar of immense gratitude from the 90,000 fans in attendance.
There are cursory nods to upcoming release The Ballad of Darren, but most of the set is made from their 2000 Best Of… compilation release, and material from the early-to-mid-90s zenith of the band’s creative output.
Interestingly, aside from the rapturously received singles, it is their pre-Britpop material, such as Popscene and Villa Rosie, that they revel in playing. Near the end of the main set, Albarn waggishly stops Song 2, after a raucous Advert, to partially upbraid his own behaviour and the band’s for “jumping around” at their age – but there is no sense of sneering or criticism from the gathered throng at any stage of the show.
There are, inevitably, signs of the group adapting to the ravages of touring since the 90s. The tracks that test the higher notes of Albarn’s vocal range (including To the End, This Is a Low and The Universal) are tuned down. Moreover, the tempo of a few, notably the joyously received Country House, feels a bit sludgier. These musical amendments, though, do not stop the crowd singing or bouncing along when one of countless hits is played.
As it is a special night, understandably, Phil Daniels appears on Parkilfe, emerging from a pop-up construction tent wheeled on next to Coxon, before Country House. Though Albarn wryly derides the set-piece as “naff”, it provides a sweetly nostalgic moment later in the encore when he pops out of it donning a replica of the Fila tracksuit jacket worn in the video for Girls and Boys. As guest appearances go, though, Daniels is wholly dwarfed when the London Community Gospel Choir gloriously fill the stage for the anthemic Tender, which provides the standout moment of the evening. Though the final two songs of the encore, The Narcissist and The Universal, fail to match Tender’s aural beauty, neither does the evening end anti-climatically.
Ultimately, the show is a triumph that will be hard for their Sunday performance to better, but, with a few tickets still available, fans might as well see them try.
Photo: Phoebe Fox
For further information and future events visit Blur’s website here.
Watch the video for the single St Charles Square here: